Zimbabwe Rise Up UK Tour organisers defend bash
By Tatenda Dewa | Harare Bureau |
A freelance marketing agent for the #zimbabweriseupuktour set for October, Arthur Samupindi, has dismissed sentiments that the bash is politically motivated.
Adverts that have been run by the Free Zimbabwe Advocacy Group that is organising the tour set for 21-23 October in Leicester and Dunstable in the UK indicate that various musicians and comedians, among them Andy Muridzo, Ba Shupi, Mushy, Nox, Allan and Tryson Chimbetu, Dobba Don, Junior Brown and Vee Kay will feature at the two bashes.
What has set tongues wagging, though, is the inclusion of civil and political activists, Patson Dzamara, Sten Zvorwadza and Evan Mawarire, a pastor now living in self-exile in the USA.
According to the Free Zimbabwe Advocacy Group which is working with Samupindi to market the tour, the three will be guest speakers during the shows.
Since July, they have organised largely successful protests against President Robert Mugabe’s government which stands accused of corruption, human rights abuses and failure to arrest a growing economic crisis.
While the Free Zimbabwe Advocacy Group manager, Josh Chigwangwa, had not responded to questions sent to him by the time of publishing, Samupindi saw no problem with roping in the civil activists.
“This is not a political tour. Artists fundamentally spread messages on many issues, and so do activists. By bringing in the activists, we are not saying revellers will be told how to vote and who to vote, no. We are just giving different people the space to spread their messages to those who want to listen,” said Samupindi, who insisted he was not one of the organisers but just a marketer.
He added that the #zimbabweriseupuktour was inspired by “similar” tours in the past, among the Free Mandela concert held before South Africa obtained its independence in 1994.
“The concept is the same. It all started with small shows to spread the message about bondage and emancipation,” added Samupindi.
He revealed that some donors would be funding the three activists’ trip to the UK.
“There will always be well-wishers to help in such a cause (as the tour) and people must not start making noise about financial assistance to the activists. After all, the government (Zimbabwean) is spending money on homeless drug addicts in the USA,” he added.
He was referring to Americans who were hired by President Mugabe’s government to counter a demonstration by Zimbabweans during a recent United Nations summit.
Samupindi said part of the proceeds from the tour would be donated to charity to enable the procurement of scarce surgical equipment and drugs in Zimbabwean hospitals.
“Some of it will go into a fund to help civil protesters get bail when they cannot raise the required money as has been the case in the past,” he said.
Dzamara has already started a fund that he recently said would be used to bail out jailed activists and improve living conditions in prisons.
The tour has already attracted controversy, with at least one of the targeted musicians, Andy Muridzo, questioning the manner in which it was being organised.
Muridzo claimed his organisers were not aware of what the tour was all about.
However, in a 17 September statement posted on Facebook, Free Zimbabwe dismissed Muridzo’s claims.
“We Free Zimbabwe Advocacy Group do hereby issue a statement as the organizers of this event that we categorically refute the suggestions that the management of the artist did not know what the event was all about and that the statement is false and misinformation at its best to the public in general as we have evidence to the contrary in regards to the claims.
“We have signed contracts with Andy’s management and ourselves and the obligations to it are not for public knowledge. We respect Andy’s decision to pull out of this project but it’s not true that they were unaware of the nature of the project and event,” said the organisers.
It added: “We thank the artists that remain committed to this project and genuine patriotic Zimbabweans that have shown a huge support for this novel idea to campaign for change and rallying behind progressive movements spearheading the citizens’ desire for change.” Nehanda Radio